Falling out of love with Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has bought Islam. For over 200 years, the al-Saud family has promoted fundamentalist Wahhabi theology, mostly through warfare inside the Arabian Peninsula; but in the last 50 years it has instead been able to continue this project by using oil money to pay for a worldwide revolution in Sunni Islam.

The strategy of building mosques and organizing fundamentalist indoctrination masquerading as education in country after country, and paying the salaries and expenses of the most extreme kinds of clergy to staff this infrastructure, has paid off handsomely. The Saudi-led Al Qaeda has faded away to be replaced by an even more extreme fundamentalist group, the Islamic State, whose beliefs are exactly those promoted by the Saudis. Fundamentalist Wahhabi or Salafist doctrines have been established as the mainstream version of Sunni theology. In Western countries over the same period, Islamic immigrant populations have become not more democratic and modern, but more intolerant and backwards, in many cases adopting the Saudi dress code for women and looking forward to the introduction of public beheadings and stonings. This is directly the result of Saudi Arabia’s estimated one hundred billion dollar investment in its remote control jihad.

But there is another side to Saudi Arabia: for it is simultaneously the country of Aramco – the Arab American Oil Company. The twentieth century was the century of oil, and by becoming an eager customer for British, American, French and Canadian weapons, Saudi Arabia became a structural part of the the post-WWII economic order. This business-like approach made Saudi Arabia such an important customer, and then such an important investor in Wall Street and the City of London, that its activities as the world’s leading promoter of Islamic revolution were simply ignored – as if this was just some quaint local superstition. Even when a group of Saudi terrorists flew aeroplanes into American targets on 9/11, the idea of any blame attaching to the Saudi leadership was quickly pushed aside in favour of the much more convenient fiction that it was Saddam Hussein’s fault – resulting in the global catastrophe of the Iraq war.

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